Faith, Hope, & Love

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2014 worship series.

Here is the outline for our 2014 worship series. Each week is given in order. Enjoy!

WEEK 1, What is worship?

Psalm 95:1-6 Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains.The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

1 Chronicles 16:29 Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.

Hebrews 13:15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.

Summary: Worship is a heartfelt response to God. It is like the reaction you have when witnessing something wonderful, brilliant and overwhelmingly powerful all wrapped into one. Its the reaction that someone has when they are truly in his presence or have experienced his grace.

WEEK 2, Types of worship.

In Scripture, praise is usually presented as boisterous, joyful, and uninhibited. One good example is Psalm 150. Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Psalm 33:2-3 Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.

Worship is usually a deeper, more reverent experience, Sometimes it can even be very intimate with a lot of heavy emotion. But it always seems to invite us to give ourselves more fully to God. Romans 12:1-2 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

John 4:23-24 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

WEEK 3, Worship vs. Entertainment.

Merriam-Webster Definition
Wor-ship
: the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god : the act of worshipping God or a god
: excessive admiration for someone

True Worship is always vertical. That means it is always directed to God alone. The joy, admiration, respect and thanks expressed to God should never be given to anyone or anything else. John 4:23-24 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Sometimes we sing songs of encouragement toward one another. These songs express scriptural truths about God and us. But even if they are sung during a worship service, they shouldn’t be called worship. Here is what scripture says about them. Colossians 3:16-17 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Sometimes christians sing songs from their individual cultures. Other times we may sing songs that are just positive. And still other times we may sing songs that are just fun and feel good. We may even hear some of these songs on Christian radio. But often times these songs are for entertainment and don’t express worship. For that reason we should be careful when we choose songs to sing in our worship services.

WEEK 4, Why should I worship?

The simplest answer is because we are commanded to.
Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!

God is worthy of our praise and worship.
Psalm 95:1-6 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;

The BEST answer is, We were created to worship him.
Colossians 1:16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
Romans 11:36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

When we discover the rich joy and fulfillment of a relationship with God, when we experience his glory in deep relationship with him, our natural response will be worship. When our satisfaction is most deeply found in him, We are worshiping. Because “he is most glorified in us, When we are most satisfied in Him”.

We Are the Body.

Hebrews 10:24-25
Community is more than just having Christian friends. It’s more than having a social life. Community is when we engage in God’s design for human coexistence for the sake of knowing him and making him known. Often times we look around and count our Christian friends, if we have more than two or three we might say, “yeah, I’m doing community.” And if community were simply decided by how many believing friends you have, then you might be in the clear. But community is much, much deeper than that.

Galatians 6:2
“When you hurt, I hurt.” Can you look someone in the eye and say that? (& mean it?) That’s the difference between a group and a community. A group may share some beliefs and ideas, but a community shares a heart, it’s ups and downs, a message and a passion.

Romans 12:3-13
We need to realize that our goal is twofold. 1, use God’s love and our gifts to push each other further into Christ. 2, use God’s love and our gifts to invite others into community so that we can repeat goal #1 with them.

Psalm 133:1-3
Unity is a position if power. Two will always be more formidable than one. Let’s not forget, Genesis 2:18, God has designed dependence into us. Primarily that dependence is on him and secondarily on each other as fellow disciples. So we need to be cautious when we start to see prideful independence start to show up in our lives. It may be a sign that were dealing with some personal rebellion.

Proverbs 24:17
Elsewhere in proverbs it says “faithful are the wounds of a friend” and I think that bears true here. Could you honestly call someone your friend, who you couldn’t trust to be direct and honest when you needed it? We have to be as committed to each other’s growth as we are to our own. And that means loving each other enough to bring truth into each other’s darkness. 

Acts 2:44 & Acts 4:32
What if we didn’t have to go into the world to get our “needs met”? What if we knew that we could trust each other to share our secrets, our hurts and our fears? What if we could come to each other for a drink of water or a bowl of soup? There’s no judgement here. Loving correction and advice? Yes. But it’s safe here. Like the arms of Christ, cause we are his body.

Idol starts with “I”

Exodus 20:3-5
The Dictionary defines Idolatry as, “An Immoderate attachment or devotion to something.” When we think of an Idol, (especially in church settings) we tend to think of some odd figure or statue. It’s often ornate and surrounded by candles or offerings. Some cultures worship their ancestors so you might see old photographs surrounded by incense. But what really makes an Idol? I say an Idol is anything you run to when your feeling lonely, scared, frustrated, hurt, angry, excited or even happy. Basically your highs and lows.

Ezekiel 14:3
You see, an Idol is made when you begin running to something other than God for, affection, help, comfort, validation or even to give thanks. So an idol could be an object like an electronic device, or a substance like drugs or alcohol, a fantasy like a crush or an ex or pornography or thoughts of revenge. It can be a current relationship like a boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse, parent, or a mentor. Basically anything that serves a purpose in your life that should only be served by God.

Judges 10:14
Idols will always leave you wanting more, they will never fully satisfy & they are notorious for failure when you need them the most. This is particularly painful when your Idol is a person because now you’re asking them to do something that only God can do and you have set them and yourself up for failure.

Colossians 3:5
We’ve discussed “amputation” before. And no matter how often I talk about it, it’s still uncomfortable. In this case were talking about cutting off those things that you know you have an inappropriate attachment to. Jesus describes this in Matthew chapter 5 when he says “So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” He’s saying, whatever is separating you from God, whatever is sitting in Gods seat needs to go! So Cut it off if you have to. Do whatever it takes so that you can realize God’s Ultimate plan for your life.” You see, idols are masters at choking potential. They keep us from the very best, God’s best.

Deuteronomy 12:3
This is a great picture of how we should treat Idols in our lives. Another one that I love is Jesus in the temple. Matthew 21:12-14, and notice what happened after all the greed and idolatry was removed, Miracles started happening.

Zechariah 1:3
All we need to do is recognize where we’ve been idolaters. Ask God to forgive us, remove (Amputate) those idols from our lives, and make him our everything. This post is a call to repent. We all have things in our lives that we’ve been leaning on, things that are sitting in God’s seat and its time for us to kick them out and let God back on the throne of our hearts.

In Christ ID

Wednesday Sermon 5/15/13
1 Corinthians 15:45

One of the great lies of our time, is that were each exclusive and isolated individuals. At most, we might see ourselves as part of a team, or relationship or a family. The result is, we tend to identify ourselves with “I am” (Young, old, tall, short, popular, weird, pretty, ugly, smart, dumb, etc.) But in reality there are only two categories of Human, In Adam and In Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22
We are all born with Adam’s nature. His inclination for sin and rebellion. We are offered a new identity in Christ. Heres the difference between being in Adam or being in Christ. Jesus traded places with me on the Cross. So all my imperfections all my inadequacies, all my ugliness and shame were ripped from me and and thrown onto him.

John 15:5

So the question for you tonight is “Are you in Christ or are you in Adam?” Notice, I didn’t ask you which one you “Want to be” or which one your “trying to be”. You see the scripture above tells us that if we are In Christ there are some evident fruits. Whats more is that a person that is “In Christ” is totally dependent on him. So, we go from being totally depraved to being totally dependent! Your a branch not a trunk!

Philippians 4:13

Lets tag this scripture to our last one. “Without him we can do nothing.” this scripture says that Through Christ we can do ALL THINGS!” So here we see Gods continued invitation to surrender our ego to him and realize that all that we are and all that we do is in Him. (Acts 17:28)

2 Corinthians 5:17

So the reality is this, if you are In Christ, theres nothing negative about you. If you remain in Christ that is your reality. When we step away from our identity in Christ we get into trouble because suddenly its all about us again. Our old “Ademic” nature starts to creep up and we re identify with our twisted ego. Your never more beautiful and perfect than when your living life rooted in Christ’s identity.

Flirting With God

I was never good at flirting. Ask Tara she’ll tell you I was hopelessly bad at it. I couldn’t even tell when a girl was flirting with me. Truth be told I’ve always been just a very “matter of fact” kind of person. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Honestly I wish I could’ve been one of those suave popular guys that just had a poetic way with words. But for some reason whatever is in my head or in my heart just seems to come out unedited. But over the years I’ve really come to dislike the concept of flirting. If you think about it, its the most insecure and insincere way of trolling for affection. Its saying, I’m really wanting you to say something meaningful to me but I’m not willing to say anything substantially meaningful to get it. Imagine opening a bag of peanut M&M’s tossing a few of those colorful candies in your mouth, only bite down on the traumatic void of an empty shell? I for one would not be too pleased. And thats what flirting is. It’s the illusion of substance without the commitment of reality. It’s the fluttery feeling of infatuation without the milage of true identity. Its the weakest expression of affection. I said all that to say this, We flirt with God. We put on the colorful candy shell of christianity and lock step with traditions, programs, and spectacles but never enter the heat of his consuming fire where he burns away all of our shallow shell and makes us like him. If there really is a difference between religion and relationship, then we ought to seek out the very depths of that difference.

Genesis 5:21-24

Enoch is one of only two people that didn’t experience death. (The other being Elijah). Whats interesting is that the only thing the Bible says about him is that he “walked closely with God” If you consider all the biblical hero’s and amazing stories contained in God’s word, It begs the question, What made Enoch so special? The only insight were given is that the scripture says “He walked closely with God”. The real question we should be asking is what does Enoch’s story tell us about what God sets at the top of his priority list?

Matthew 4:18-22

Their Jobs were all they had. Yet the disciples up and followed Jesus without question. They had every reason to deny the great risk involved in following Jesus, yet left it all behind. If you consider the risk involved in what they did, it’s on par with Jesus asking you to give up a college scholarship, or a lucrative career. Or perhaps to put it more accurately, it would be like asking a homeless person to give up their shopping cart. It’s all they had! Yet the scripture says that they “Immediately” followed him. I used to play Texas Hold Em with a group of friends and this one guy was notorious for “Going All In” early in the game. What that means is he would rase the stakes by betting all his chips. And he often won! I call it dumb luck but thats beside the point. The point is that we will never experience anything beyond a superficial religious experience if we don’t “Go All In”.

Mark 10:17-27

This young man had plenty of great intentions. But his heart was still so tied to his possessions that he couldn’t move forward with Jesus. He was flirting with eternity but anchored to the world. This is played out daily in our daily lives. And although most people are more than willing to make certain sacrifices for their faith most will never go so far as to sacrifice relationships. Were addicted to approval, and we can’t stand not hearing someone express positive affirmation for us. (Thats why we flirt.) But until were willing to engage in a daily, walking, talking, relationship with God, all these other relationships will be nothing more than cheap copies, weak attempts to substitute the creation for the creator. Were just like the rich young ruler, terrified that God will ask us to sacrifice the one thing we cant imagine living without. The security blanket of human affirmation. Truth be told, not all relationships are bad. Nor could I imagine God asking you to dissolve every single one of them. But lets be honest, most of us have many acquaintances and a select few of what I’d call “Intimate Interactions” (these are the relationships that command your greatest attention and concern). And the sad truth is that these are the relationships that often need to be evaluated through the lens of the Holy Spirit. I’ll give this small relationship advice to guys and girls alike. Don’t get into a dating relationship or even let yourself become interested with a person that isn’t known to your parents and or spiritual leaders. Why? because they can see the things that you can’t (or won’t) and they can help you avoid getting into a relationship that will just pull you away from God or “Water Down” your life. Don’t bring a stranger to your parents or pastors and say “This is my Girl/Boyfriend, I wanted you to meet Him/Her!” By that time you’ve placed yourself in a position like the rich young man and you wont be very willing to give up what you should have never taken up to begin with…

Luke 10:38-42

Martha was like a lot of us. We tend to think that doing good things and being involved in spiritual activity can take the place of a real relationship with Jesus. Remember, Enoch wasn’t known for any great feats, miracles or outstanding character. He was only known for his relationship with God. Often when someone comes to me and says “Pastor Marc, God told me…….” what follows is some grandiose vision of personal glory and self absorbed ambition. Rarely do they say “God wants me to be a nobody for him.” or “God has called me to pray for other people’s needs and not my own.” I’ll be honest when God speaks to me its for one of two reasons. 1- I screwed up somewhere and he’s setting me straight. 2- He’s making me aware of someone else’s need or situation so that I can pray for them and or help if thats what pleases him. Theres no difference between you or I. You can hear God just like anyone else. Those that do are able to because they’re committed to hearing and obeying even if they disagree or dislike what he says. Get off your agenda and get on His…

Psalm 84:10

King David (A man with near limitless means) knew the value of being in God’s presence. He’d seen the greatest banquets and lived in the best homes, Yet he knew God’s presence was better than them all. Heres the reality, Do we live in a real world? The answer is yes. But, this is not our home so we should be very careful about what we give our hearts to while were here. And we should stop flirting with God and simply commit whole heartedly. Theres simply nothing that will ever compare to him.

Psalm 91:1

The Bible invites us to enjoy abiding in Christ. This is a verse we should all take some time to consider. What does it mean to Dwell or Abide?

It’s not about us.

Back in 2007 my wife and I attended a large prayer service in Nashville. The whole premise was to worship and intercede for the country. One thing that I really appreciated was that although there would be some “big names” in worship present, none would be promoted. We were there to worship God and lift his name on high. Not see our favorite artist perform. What ended up happening was 70,000 believers came together to worship their creator and intercede for their nation. But one thing did stand out to me, the song selection. I heard titles that started with I am, I worship, I will, I need, I… I… I… Kind of ironic isn’t it? Here we are saying that we want to focus on Jesus but all we can do is focus on ourselves. This is one of the greatest downfalls of the American church. We tend to be more focused on ourselves than on God. We seek his hand more than we seek his face. We approach him for our benefit not his honor. The great I has become more important than the great I Am.

What does the word of God say about this attitude?

Psalm 29:2 says, “Honor the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.”

Psalm 69:9 says, “Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him.”

Matthew 4:10 says, “You must worship the LORD your God and serve him only.”

You see, If we want to really worship, we need to be focused on Jesus and his glory. It’s one thing to make biblically true statements about ourselves and our relationship with God and even the benefits of that relationship. But if were not directing our words and affections toward the Lord, then can we really call it worship? Some people may not like me saying that the church in America is more self-centered than God centered. But believe me, I don’t like saying it. I too have been guilty of engaging in christianity for my own benefit. I’ve sung songs that had more to do with me than God. I’ve “worshiped” with the intent of making myself feel better and no regard for God whatsoever.

Now I should say that these songs aren’t sinful or even wrong. In fact Ephesians 5:19 encourages us to sing them. And there is certainly a benefit in declaring who we are in Jesus. The issue is this, It’s not worship. Again I’ll say it’s not bad, but it’s not worship. The word tells in Romans 12:2 “Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world,” But when our worship is focused more on ourselves than on God, then what we have done is conformed to the “It’s all about me” pattern of this world. I was stopped at a red light the other day and a young man in the car next to me was listening to a rap song (he had the volume up so loud that I felt like I was in the vehicle with him). And the lyrics of that song basically revolved around feeling good and having nice things. Sounds like the American church if you ask me. Now I know we love our prosperity gospel and I’m not trying to knock it. I agree that God wants to give good gifts to his children. But when were disproportionately focused on us, and our comfort, and our happiness, and our wants, then are we really trusting God to provide all that? All too often our song services our littered with titles that are all about us. And when that is the case it bears little resemblance to truly biblical worship.

We need to refocus our worship. When we worship, Jesus must be the one and only object of our affections. It’s not about me, It’s all about Him. When we fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrew 12:2) We take our eyes of our trivial concerns and join with heaven in the business of eternity.

He must increase and I must decrease.

Amputate.

In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis gives us a good picture of the deception of sin and the need to be radical about amputating it. In his story, he and some others were on a bus trip that took them to the outskirts of heaven. There, they are able to get a glimpse of true reality – about heaven and themselves. In this story, the people from the bus trip are “ghosts”, they aren’t fully human as they will be when they enter heaven for all eternity. And each “Ghost” has something he must give up.

Read this and see the “radicalness” of the amputation needed.

I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder. Like all the Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ. Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily. What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. “Shut up, I tell you!” he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains.

“Off so soon?” said a voice.

The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day.

“Yes, I’m off,” said the Ghost. “Thanks for all your hospitality. But it’s no good, you see. I told this little chap,” (here he indicated the lizard), “that he’d have to be quiet if he came – which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here: I realize that. But he won’t stop. I shall just have to go home

“Would you like me to make him quiet?” said the flaming Spirit – an angel, as I now understood.

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh – ah – look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,” said the Ghost retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?” said the Angel.

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with something so drastic as that.”

“It’s the only way,” said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the lizard. “Shall I kill it?”

“Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it…” said the Ghost.

“May I kill it?” asked the Angel.

“Well, there’s time to discuss that later” said the Ghost.

“There is no time. May I kill it?”

Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please – really – don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it will be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

“May I kill it?”

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.” said the Ghost.

“The gradual process is of no use at all.”

“Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well today. It would be silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.”

“There is no other day. All days are present now.”

“Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You’d kill me if you did.”

“It is not so.”

“Why, you’re hurting me now.”

“I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you”…

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.

“Be careful,” it said. “He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me forever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d only be a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams – all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent…”

“Have I your permission?” asked the Angel to the Ghost.

“I know it will kill me.”

“It won’t. But supposing it did?” asked the Angel

“You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.”

“Then I may?”

“…Go on can’t you! Get it over. Do what you like,” bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, “God help me. God help me.”

Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken backed on the turf.

Some people, rather than cut off the causes of sin, want to stare it in the face and just say “no” or tell it to “be quiet” as C.S. Lewis described. They think that would be true victory. However, this desire to try to be strong rather than pure will not result in victory. I remember struggling with habitual sin. And telling myself that in order to have victory I had to be stronger than the sin. The word of God never calls us to be stronger than sin, it calls us to run “FLEE” from sin. Jesus said that if our right hand offends us, we should cut it off. We don’t traditionally understand this to be a literal command but rather a description of how we must deal with sin in our lives. I can tell you from experience that you can’t be stronger than sin and you can’t outlast it in a battle of will. You have to amputate the source of sin in your life. You have to cut off whatever access you have to sin. That could mean tossing the computer in the bin or asking the hotel manager to remove the television, or  perhaps grocery shopping with an accountability partner. Whatever it takes you have to get free before you can stay free. So the next time your tempted to think you can “control” the decaying effects of sin, consider the best option, Amputate.

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